Photo by Henrik Trygg / Courtesy of http://mediabank.visitstockholm.com/
Sweden has been the odd duckling throughout Covid-19. We are the only country in Europe who has had schools open, and we are pretty much alone in not having a lockdown.
So what does this mean for global mobility and all the expats that are relocating?
Actually, many things, but not all, are already digitized and our work permit applications are typically filed electronically and have been for years. Our Migration Agency is operating as per usual and while we can’t be sure that timelines will be kept in the upcoming months, amazingly things have proceeded smoothly up until today April 27th, 2020.
Many people are working from home, including the people at the government authorities that we routinely work with and this seems to have reduced the incidents for the regular flu and other common colds as well so the social distancing is working.
While we don't have a lockdown, a lot of Swedes have looked around the world and copied the strategies of people living in other countries and have had self-imposed quarantines, etc.
So there haven’t been any delays in the handling of work permits although the travel bans around the world and cancelled flights have of course delayed the arrivals.
For home finding, many of our clients have, for years, opted for the virtual tours and Home on Arrival programs. This has become even more appreciated by our clients. Landlords, who have traditionally been keen to meet the prospective clients, are currently not comfortable letting people into their homes due to the virus.
Originally, the wish for these programs sprung out of other needs, but have proved to be great in Covid-19 times.
The pros being;
- The company and employee can avoid expensive temporary housing
- While waiting for VISAs it’s not possible to visit Sweden and a pre-visit isn’t needed
- Many talents are finishing up a job at home and this allows them to keep their attention on the task.
- Peace of mind that housing is already taken care of. Housing size and set up is known from the start and appropriate packing is done.
- Employee can hit the ground running, go to work and be able to focus on work in a less difficult housing market
Why has this been successful?
- Sweden has great internet and wifi so the quality of Facetime/Skype viewings and other means of communication are of good quality
- Swedish building rules are very set so the difference between properties isn’t that big; hence, the apartments are very similar to one another which makes the decisions easier. A kitchen counter must be 1800 mm long is such an example.
- Our consultants are really good at making sure that the renter gets answers to all queries and questions and they show around and describe the neighborhoods well.
When doesn’t it work? What are the cons?
- It’s harder with families as many more requirements on housing come into play such as proximity to a school. Housing becomes more important since more people should like it in the family and some may spend a lot of time there.
- This model isn’t for everyone. While some people think it’s wonderful to relocate and have a big burden taken care of beforehand, others really want to do this thoroughly and in person. We are all different and all personality types should be given the opportunity to have a smooth arrival.
- When budget and wishes aren’t aligned then it is harder to go to the solution. If that happens on an accompanied house tour, then we show properties within budget and also what the person is looking for and then it’s easier to make a decision based on a real choice.
Given that Sweden has excellent internet, and we have worked with virtual tours for many years, it has been easy to adapt to the Covid-19 requirements given to us by both landlords and tenants wishes.
The work from home option or even requirement has been given to people working at authorities as well as private companies which seems to have flattened the curve and we haven’t seen delays.
So, as strange as it sounds, we are able to provide relocation and immigration services to Sweden to a large extent. We do acknowledge that moving cross borders in the middle of a pandemic is difficult and we try to be there to comfort, explain and in general support the newcomers as much as we can.
If you’re planning to bring foreign talent to Sweden, navigating an unfamiliar culture and immigration process can slow you down. Thankfully, Nimmersion’s Immigration Guide to Bringing Foreign Talent to Sweden is here to help. Let’s get your new talent down to business!